Opponents of a supertall planned for Two Bridges took a step toward toppling the development with a precedent-setting court ruling that could knock out the tower’s base.
In a state appellate court decision, a panel of judges ruled that the longstanding ground lease tenant of a building where JDS Development plans to raise the 1,008-foot tower must have a say in how the lot’s development rights are used.
The decision, first reported by THE CITY, could have far-reaching implications on the three luxury skyscrapers proposed for the traditionally low-rise, low-income neighborhood, which are already embroiled in legal challenges put forward by community advocates and Manhattan elected officials.
The ground lease holder at 235 Cherry Street, Little Cherry LLC, has 25 years left on its lease at the vacant building that was once home to a supermarket, pharmacy, and a furniture and appliance store. JDS aims to build a glassy tower that would cantilever over the one-story building and sit atop the neighboring Two Bridges Senior Apartments complex.
But to do that, JDS and its principal Michael Stern must acquire Little Cherry’s consent and the court may have thrown a wrench into the developer’s plans with its July 10 declaration that the firm has “failed to establish, as a matter of law, that plaintiff is not a party in interest whose consent is require for the zoning lot merger.” Little Cherry has “absolutely no intention” of going along with the developer’s plans, according to the group’s attorney, Raymond Hannigan.
“Our consent is necessary and I think this project will not be built without our consent,” says Hannigan. “Michael Stern is delusional if he thinks the project is going to move forward without our consent.”
A JDS spokesperson defended the project and argues the ruling will not be a hurdle for the supertall.
“While we disagree with the court’s decision and will continue to defend the case vigorously, neither the case nor the ruling will impact the development in any meaningful way,” the spokesperson says.
The ruling is not binding and the facts of the case are still being litigated, says Hannigan. But the legal snag could mean more time for local leaders as they mull zoning changes for the area that would prevent future towers from soaring high-above the majority of the neighborhood’s buildings.